What is Public Security?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Public security is the safety of people and organizations within a given nation while they go about ordinary business. Threats to public security may include terrorism, civil unrest, and related issues. Many nations have security agencies concerned with identifying and addressing such threats, including agencies with the capacity for international cooperation so they can assist allied countries with multinational threats. Public security experts can work in a variety of settings and may need to pass background checks in many work environments.

Some information collected by the government might be kept secret in the interest of public security.
Some information collected by the government might be kept secret in the interest of public security.

On a basic level, public security involves maintaining public order and peace. This can include everything from law enforcement officers who make sure people comply with noise and public safety ordinances to anti-terrorism sweeps of public transit so buses, trains, and planes will be safe for members of the public. Emergency services help to protect public security by addressing a variety of safety issues ranging from accidental releases of hazardous materials to structure fires.

Public security experts work in a variety of settings and positions, including law enforcement.
Public security experts work in a variety of settings and positions, including law enforcement.

This topic can also include issues like threats to the economy and the well being of companies. Safety and security needs for companies and organizations differ from those of the general public, but are still important for maintaining social order. If business is interrupted by activities like hackings or industrial sabotage, it can politically destabilize a nation or cause a cascading effect where public confidence decreases and people begin to panic.

People involved in public security usually work to be proactive, rather than reactive, on security topics. They think about potential threats in a variety of settings and take steps to prevent them from becoming problems, while also responding to tips and dealing with ongoing investigations into public security concerns. Many people in this field work in law enforcement, although people like computer experts are also an important part of the process of creating layers of security and foreseeing threats before they become a problem.

Legislatures are also a part of the process of maintaining public security. Their work includes passing laws to address security threats, appropriating funds to pay for law enforcement, and creating new agencies to address shifting security threats. Legislators work with researchers and advisers to make sure they stay current with evolving security needs so they can assist law enforcement agencies in preventing security threats. Many legislatures have a committee or panel tasked with addressing safety and security, and these panels may call in outside experts to assist with the process of drafting legislation and conducting investigations.

Public security experts may be responsible for ensuring that people comply with noise ordinances.
Public security experts may be responsible for ensuring that people comply with noise ordinances.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


@ddljohn-- I think some of those issues and conceptions of public security in the US have come about due to globalization. The world is getting smaller and there are more and more threats coming from the outside these days. The reason that we had some issues with public security in the last decade is because global security has declined overall.

The public security issues we have faced and continue to face here, other countries are facing too. I do agree with you though that our law enforcement and intelligence agencies have been working really hard to overcome these problems. They've had to see things in a different angle because of global terrorism threats, but we've definitely made good progress.

Anybody else agree with me?


I personally think that public security in the US in general does a great job and runs very smoothly. But I hear people all the time who criticize our law enforcement and intelligence agencies for not working fast enough or preventing attacks before they happen.

I think the media probably has a lot to do with this. When a law enforcement agency successfully prevents a threat, it doesn't end up in the news and we never hear about it. But if a threat couldn't be stopped or if an attack does take place, than law enforcement agencies are the first to blame.

I don't think this is fair at all. If we knew how many threats and attacks our law enforcement agencies actually prevent, I'm sure we would realize what a great job they're doing. I'm proud of them simply because they risk their own lives every day for public safety and security.


Public security is very important for businesses, both small and large. My uncle has a small IT business and and since he had to invest a lot of money in technology equipment from the beginning, he didn't ensure the security of his business as much as he should have. Consequently he was a victim theft and lost thousands of dollars because of it.

He was able to get through it by taking out credits and set up shop again. But this time he is paying a lot of money to a private security firm to ensure nothing like this happens again. His job depends on his equipment and losing equipment not only means losing money, but it also means losing integrity with customers who depend on you.

I think these kinds of security issues, however large or small, impact businesses and the overall economy of a region and even the country very badly.

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